Cincinnati Reds – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-05-24T21:43:26Z WordPress Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Place Raisel Iglesias On Disabled List]]> 2018-05-23T20:43:29Z 2018-05-23T20:43:29Z The Reds announced this afternoon that they’ve placed closer Raisel Iglesias on the 10-day disabled list due to soreness in his left (non-throwing) biceps. Fellow righty Austin Brice is also headed to the DL thanks to an upper back injury. In their place, the Reds activated righties Michael Lorenzen and Tanner Rainey from the disabled list. The announcement didn’t include any expected timeline for either player’s absence.

Iglesias, 28, struggled with his control early in the season but has corrected that issue lately and looked to be in excellent form since late April. He did issue a pair of runs and suffer his second blown save in his most recent appearance, but he’s gone 10 outings without issuing a walk and pitched to a 1.74 ERA with 12 strikeouts in that time. Overall in 21 2/3 innings this season, he’s notched a 2.08 ERA with 11.2 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 1.25 HR/9 and a 36.2 percent ground-ball rate.

Brice, meanwhile, has been scored upon in four of his past past five appearances, causing his ERA to balloon up to 4.67 despite largely promising K/BB and ground-ball tendencies. In 25 innings of relief this season, he’s averaged 9.4 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 with a 50.7 percent ground-ball rate. He’s been too prone to the long ball, though, already serving up four homers on the season. That’s been an ongoing trend for Brice in the big leagues, as he’s yielded a dozen big flies in just 71 2/3 frames at the game’s top level.

[Related: Cincinnati Reds depth chart | MLB closer depth chart at Roster Resource]

It’s not yet clear who’ll step into the ninth inning for the Reds with Iglesias out of action. For all of the Reds’ flaws, they actually have several high-quality options in the ’pen, where Amir Garrett, Jared Hughes and Dylan Floro have all worked to a sub-2.00 ERA in 2018. Garrett has very arguably been the team’s most dominant relief arm, averaging better than 10 strikeouts per nine innings and notching a 1.67 ERA in his 27 frames this far. The veteran Hughes has shown the best control of the bunch and comes with the most late-inning experience in the big leagues, having spent several seasons as a setup man for the division-rival Pirates. Lorenzen, meanwhile, was the top setup man to Iglesias last season but has yet to pitch in the Majors this season due to a shoulder strain that caused him to open the season on the disabled list.

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds Select Brandon Dixon's Contract]]> 2018-05-23T01:23:33Z 2018-05-23T01:23:44Z
  • The Reds selected the contract of infielder/outfielder Brandon Dixon from Triple-A, optioning Rosell Herrera to Triple-A in a corresponding move.  Dixon, a third-round pick for the Dodgers in the 2013 draft, was one of the three youngsters (along with Jose Peraza and Scott Schebler) dealt to Cincinnati as part of the three-team trade that sent Todd Frazier to the White Sox.  Neither Baseball America or ranked Dixon among the Reds’ top 30 prospects, though he put himself on the map this season thanks to an impressive .326/.371/.527 slash line over 140 PA at Triple-A Louisville.  While he has spent much of his pro career as a second and third baseman, Dixon has made multiple starts as a first baseman and corner outfielder this season, giving him added versatility on the Reds’ roster.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds GM Nick Krall Discusses Rise Through Baseball Ops]]> 2018-05-22T20:14:02Z 2018-05-22T13:41:41Z On his latest podcast,’s Mark Feinsand chats with just-minted Reds GM Nick Krall, who took a grinder’s approach to getting into the game. The back story is an interesting listen and also provides some insight into Krall’s background with the Moneyball-era A’s. Of what he learned from Billy Beane, Krall says he was impressed by Beane’s scope of knowledge of players from outside the Oakland organization along with his certitude as to “what he wanted on his team.” From former Reds GM Walt Jocketty, Krall says he learned to exercise greater patience. (Krall describes himself as “a very impatient person” by nature.) It’s a worthwhile listen for fans who want to learn more about the most recent person to be named a major-league general manager.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Reds Unlikely To Spend Big On New Manager]]> 2018-05-21T01:25:11Z 2018-05-21T01:25:11Z
  • The Reds have been playing better under Jim Riggleman, but if the team does still want to make a long-term change in the dugout, Heyman hears that the team isn’t going to be spending big on a managerial salary.  A new skipper will almost certainly make less than Dusty Baker’s $3.5MM annual salary when he was running the team.  This could rule out a star hire like Joe Girardi, who impressed Reds ownership when he interviewed for the job prior to Baker’s hiring.  Interestingly, Heyman believes that Girardi — an Illinois native — could be a candidate if the White Sox decided to make a managerial change, though there isn’t any indication that the Sox are considering moving on from Rick Renteria.  That scenario would have a strong echo of Renteria’s last managerial job, when he stewarded the Cubs through some rebuilding years before being replaced by another star manager in Joe Maddon.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Anthony DeSclafani Progressing Toward Return]]> 2018-05-20T18:28:38Z 2018-05-20T18:28:42Z
  • Like Kershaw, Reds righty Anthony DeSclafani is making progress as he works back from his own injury – a left oblique strain. DeSclafani, who previously missed all of last season with a sprained UCL, made a successful start at Double-A on Saturday and could be just two more rehab starts from returning to the majors, Brian Scott Rippee of writes. Before injuries derailed his career, DeSclafani was an effective starter in Cincinnati, where he combined for 308 innings of 3.74 ERA/3.79 FIP ball from 2015-16. If the 28-year-old’s anywhere near that good upon returning, it would be a boon for a rebuilding Cincy club that has struggled to find quality starters. The Reds’ DeSclafani-less rotation has posted a horrendous 5.66 ERA dating back to last season.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds Release Cliff Pennington]]> 2018-05-18T21:48:07Z 2018-05-18T21:48:07Z The Reds have released infielder Cliff Pennington at his request, per C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic (via Twitter). He had recently been outrighted off of the 40-man roster.

    Pennington, 34, has been a fixture in the majors since he debuted back in 2008, though he has not been a regular since wrapping up his time with the A’s after the 2012 campaign. In recent seasons, he has functioned as a utilityman with the Diamondbacks, Angels, and (briefly) Blue Jays.

    Over the years, Pennington has compiled ample experience at short and second, while also lining up a fair bit at third base and seeing limited action in left field and at first base. (And, yes, he has also taken the mound.) Despite a marginal .242/.309/.339 career batting line, Pennington has rarely struggled to find work due to his respected glove.

    Last winter, though, it proved impossible for Pennington to land a MLB job. He won a spot on the Cincinnati roster to open the year, but managed only four singles and five walks (with 13 strikeouts) in his 34 plate appearances. Now, he’ll head back onto the open market in hopes of finding another organization that can offer a path back to the big leagues.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Release Ben Rowen]]> 2018-05-14T19:21:28Z 2018-05-14T19:21:28Z
  • Right-handed reliever Ben Rowen was released from the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate, per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy.The 29-year-old Rowen has just 11 2/3 MLB innings under his belt (none since 2016), but the sidearmer has a lengthy track record of success in Triple-A. He allowed 11 runs in 10 2/3 innings to open the 2018 season, however, and his ground-ball rate, which has previously been well north of 60 percent, was just 41.9 percent so far this season. Rowen entered 2018 with a career 2.81 ERA with 6.9 K/9 against 1.8 BB/9 in parts of five Triple-A campaigns, so perhaps he’ll garner interest elsewhere.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 5/13/18]]> 2018-05-13T22:43:55Z 2018-05-13T22:43:55Z The latest minor league moves from around the game…

    • The Reds announced that outfielder Tyler Goeddel was released from Triple-A Louisville’s roster to create room for recently-demoted southpaw Brandon Finnegan.  Goeddel has been in Cincinnati’s organization since being claimed off waivers by the Phillies in April 2017, and he was off to a tough start this season, batting just .229/.326/.349 over 96 PA for Louisville.  Picked 41st overall by the Rays in the 2011 amateur draft, Goeddel hit .192/.258/.291 over 234 plate appearances after the Phillies selected him out of Tampa’s system in the 2015 Rule 5 draft.
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Central Notes: Reyes, R. Rodriguez, Taillon, Senzel]]> 2018-05-12T14:13:17Z 2018-05-12T14:13:17Z The presence of Rule 5 Draft pick Victor Reyes is somewhat of a strain on the Tigers’ roster. Evan Woodberry of takes an extensive look at the topic, and notes that the speedy outfielder’s most definable job so far this season has been as a pinch runner for the aging Victor Martinez. While injuries mount for Detroit, other players have been forced to shoulder a heavier workload, including Mikie Mahtook, who had to start Wednesday’s game against the Rangers despite being jet-lagged and sleep-deprived. While Reyes certainly has a bright future, Woodberry points out that he’s clearly overmatched by big-league pitching in the present; he’s only managed to collect three soft singles so far this season and has an average exit velocity below 80 MPH. In accordance with the Rule 5 boundaries, Reyes must remain on the Tigers’ 25-man roster for the entirety of the season or be returned to his former club (the Diamondbacks). Few around baseball have any doubt that his future is bright, but rostering him for the entire season could prove a significant burden for a club that’s already going to have a hard time winning baseball games.

    Onto some items from the NL Central…

    • Travis Sawchik of Fangraphs writes that the Pirates found a winning lottery ticket in the form of recent minor-league free agent Richard Rodriguez. The 28-year-old right-hander has been just about as dominant as a pitcher can be, evidenced by his 15.53 K/9 and microscopic 0.16 FIP on the young season. He’s already been worth half a win above replacement, as Sawchik points out, which is remarkable considering we’re not even halfway through May. Sawchik has plenty of other interesting facts throughout a deep look into RichRod’s dominance, including the whiff rate on his fastball, his first-pitch strike percentage and the way he’s attacking hitters.
    • In other Pirates news, right-hander Jameson Taillon exited last night’s start with a finger laceration. According to Adam Berry of, Taillon is frustrated at the freak accident and hopes it won’t cost him a start. “It just got worse and worse. It’s tough in the short term to come out of a game, but hopefully by coming out when I did, we’ve kind of mitigated it,” Taillon said. “Hopefully I won’t miss starts down the road.” The budding Pirates ace has had something of a Jekyll-and-Hyde season so far, allowing 15 earned runs in his three losses but permitting just three across his other five starts.
    • Nick Senzel’s vertigo is back, and the Reds prospect has landed on the 7-day DL as a result. Mark Sheldon of notes that Senzel hasn’t played since being removed from a May 3rd game after just one plate appearance. Vertigo is a condition that brings on dizziness spells and causes the victim to lose balance. Reds president Dick Williams told reporters recently that the club is “being very cautious” with their top-ranked prospect, and at the moment there isn’t a clear timetable for when he’ll be able to resume playing. The club has been playing Senzel at both second and third base this season in hopes of increasing his versatility and finding him a spot at the big league level.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds To Option Brandon Finnegan; Matt Harvey To Start Tomorrow]]> 2018-05-10T23:45:00Z 2018-05-10T23:45:00Z The Reds will option left-hander Brandon Finnegan to Triple-A Louisville tomorrow, and his spot in the rotation will go to the newly acquired Matt Harvey, the team tells reporters (Twitter link via John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer).

    [Related: Reds Acquire Matt Harvey]

    It’s been a rough start to the season for Finnegan, as the former first-rounder has issued more walks (15) than strikeouts (14) and yielded 20 runs (17 earned) in 20 2/3 innings out of the Cincinnati rotation. Of the 27 hits Finnegan has allowed, five have left the yard. He’ll head to Triple-A and look to hone his command as he looks to work his way back onto the big league roster and trim an unsightly 7.40 ERA.

    As for Harvey, he’ll be getting a fresh start after a dramatic and highly publicized end to his tenure in Queens. The righty has been rocked for 21 runs on 33 hits and nine walks with 20 strikeouts in 27 innings so far in 2018 as he still searches for his pre-thoracic-outlet-syndrome form. Moving to the hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark isn’t likely to do him any favors in curbing his home run problems — he’s yielded six in 27 innings — though the change of scenery and a lower-profile setting could perhaps provide a mental reprieve.

    Cincinnati flipped catcher Devin Mesoraco, whose own career has been derailed by injuries in recent seasons, to the Mets to acquire the rights to roll the dice on Harvey earlier this month. The Reds are reportedly still paying the entirety of Mesoraco’s $13.8MM salary, while the Mets are on the hook for what’s left of Harvey’s $5.6MM salary.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Promote Nick Krall To General Manager]]> 2018-05-10T20:32:42Z 2018-05-10T20:32:42Z The Reds announced this afternoon that assistant general manager Nick Krall has been named the club’s new general manager. President of baseball operations Dick Williams will continue to oversee the club’s entire baseball operations department, per the announcement. The Reds, then, will be employing the president/general manager tandem that has become increasingly popular throughout the game, with organizations such as the Cubs, Dodgers, Athletics and numerous others have adopted in recent seasons.

    It’s been a steady climb through the Reds’ ranks for Krall, who broke in with the organization in 2003 when he was hired to run the club’s advance scouting department. Since that time, Krall has been the team’s assistant director of baseball operations, the senior director of baseball operations and, most recently, a vice president and assistant GM. The LSU grad has been working in professional baseball since getting a foot in the door with the A’s back in 2001-02.

    “Moving forward, Nick will be more heavily involved in the decisions we need to make to improve our product on the field both at the Major League and minor league levels,” Williams said in a statement announcing the promotion.

    In addition to his advance scouting work earlier in his career, Krall’s previous duties as a VP and AGM saw him involved in a wide range of baseball ops responsibilities, including arbitration, contract negotiations, player acquisition and rules/waiver compliance. He’ll bring a wide range of experience to his newfound title, though it appears that final say on baseball operations decisions will still lie with Williams.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mets, Reds Swap Matt Harvey For Devin Mesoraco]]> 2018-05-08T23:10:34Z 2018-05-08T22:18:40Z The Mets and Reds announced on Tuesday that they’ve swapped right-hander Matt Harvey and catcher Devin Mesoraco. The Reds are sending cash to the Mets to offset the difference in salary, as Mesoraco is earning $13.125MM in 2018 to Harvey’s $5.6MM. Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports first reported the trade was close (via Twitter).

    Matt Harvey | Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

    Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (via Twitter) that Cincinnati is paying the entirety of Mesoraco’s deal, while the Mets are paying all of Harvey’s contract. In essence, then, there’s no impact on either club’s payroll, and the move simply boils down to a change of scenery for two former stars who’ve fallen out of favor and dropped down the depth chart in their original organizations.

    New York also announced that Todd Frazier has been placed on the disabled list due to a strained left hamstring, while Anthony Swarzak has been transferred to the 60-day DL. The Reds, meanwhile, have selected the contract of catcher Tony Cruz from Triple-A in a corresponding move, and he’ll now serve as the backup to Tucker Barnhart, who has replaced Mesoraco in tonight’s lineup. The Mets and Reds are playing each other tonight, and Mesoraco is available to hit for his new club. Harvey will join the Reds later this week in Los Angeles, the team announced.

    For Harvey, the ace will get a clean slate in a low-pressure environment as he looks to return to form with a last-place Reds club that assuredly can afford to give him an extended look in what has been a dismal rotation. Harvey hasn’t been anywhere near the pitcher he was early in his career, with injuries derailing what was one of the more promising young careers among all MLB pitchers. Specifically, Harvey has undergone both Tommy John surgery and thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in the past four years, and his production has unsurprisingly plummeted as a result.

    Harvey, 29, pitched to a pristine 2.53 ERA with 9.5 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9 in 427 big league innings from 2012-15. Tommy John surgery in 2014 slowed his career, but he was able to return to prominence with a terrific 2015 season and a heroic postseason performance that was largely befitting of his “Dark Knight” moniker, even if his ninth-inning struggles in the decisive Game 5 of the 2015 World Series will live on in infamy.

    [Related: Updated New York Mets depth chart | Updated Cincinnati Reds depth chart]

    The 2016 season, however, was a struggle for Harvey, as he pitched just 92 2/3 innings of 4.86 ERA ball before ultimately succumbing to the aforementioned TOS surgery. The track record of pitchers returning from TOS surgery is not good, to say the least, and Harvey is one of the more prominent data points exemplifying that fact. Since returning from that surgery in 2016, he’s pitched to a 6.77 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 4.2 BB/9 and 2.0 HR/9 in 119 2/3 innings. Harvey’s average fastball velocity is a career-low 92.6 mph so far in 2018, and he’s also posted career-worsts in chase rate (21.1 percent) and opponents’ hard-contact rate (43 percent) while notching the second-lowest swinging-strike rate of his career (8.2 percent).

    Reds starters have posted an MLB-worst 5.68 ERA in 2018, and the team is unsurprisingly buried in the NL Central with an 8-27 record due in no small part to the inadequacies of its rotation. Young righties Tyler Mahle and Sal Romano have turned in ERAs in the mid-4.00s, but no other Reds starter has an ERA south of Homer Bailey’s 5.61 mark. Mahle, Romano, Bailey, Luis Castillo and Brandon Finnegan have been the primary starters for Cincinnati to date, though there’s been some suggestion that Finnegan’s spot could be in jeopardy. With an 8.27 ERA and more walks than strikeouts so far in 2018 through 20 2/3 innings, he’s been the worst offender in a stunningly bad collection of starting pitchers.

    Viewed through that lens, there’s a very low bar for Harvey to clear in his new environs. Without the expectation of contending, he’ll be able to start regularly with the Reds and try to get straightened out even if he initially struggles. However, it’s also worth noting that from a ballpark perspective, Harvey is landing in one of the worst spots possible for a pitcher that has had home run issues since TOS surgery. Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park is known as a hitters’ haven and is especially home-run friendly for hitters, so Harvey will have his work cut out for him in rebounding in a park with dimensions that won’t do him any favors.

    Devin Mesoraco | Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK

    Turning to the Mets, in Mesoraco they’re acquiring a former All-Star catcher who once looked to be a breakout star but is now a reclamation project in his own right following a brutal series of injuries. A former first-round pick (15th overall in 2007), Mesoraco long rated as one of the game’s top overall prospects. And while he took longer than most expected to realize that potential, he announced his presence as the Reds’ catcher of the future — or so they thought — in 2014 when he hit .273/.359/.534 with 25 homers and 25 doubles, making his lone All-Star appearance along the way.

    That season was enough for the Reds to sign Mesoraco to a four-year, $28MM contract extension that covered what would’ve been his first free-agent season (2018). However, a left hip injury in 2015 prevented Mesoraco from following up on that breakthrough season, limiting him 23 games and eventually necessitating surgery. A torn labrum in his shoulder prompted season-ending surgery in 2016, and a year later Mesoraco underwent surgery on his other hip in a third consecutive injury-ruined season. Along the way, Cincinnati entrusted defensive standout Tucker Barnhart as its new primary catcher, relegating Mesraco to the role of an expensive backup.

    Since playing in 114 games in that stellar 2014 campaign, Mesoraco has played in a combined 113 games from 2015-18, hitting just .195/.291/.318 in 316 plate appearances along the way. He’s off to a .220/.289/.341 start to his 2018 season through a total of 45 plate appearances, but he’ll likely receive ample opportunity to bounce back with his new club. Travis d’Arnaud has already undergone Tommy John surgery and is out for the season, while Kevin Plawecki remains shelved with a hairline fracture in his hand that he suffered upon being hit by a pitch late last month. New York has been relying on journeyman Jose Lobaton and rookie Tomas Nido to handle catching duties in the absence of d’Arnaud and Plawecki, but neither backstop has provided even a shred of offensive value. Lobaton is hitting .163/.265/.256, while Nido has slashed just .147/.197/.176.

    As for the remainder of the roster moves announced today, it’s not yet clear just how long Frazier will be sidelined with his injury. With Frazier out of action, the Mets seem likely to turn to Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores to handle duties at the hot corner. The transfer of Swarzak to the 60-day DL doesn’t necessarily impact his timeline to return, either; he’s already been out of action since April 1 due to an oblique injury and has to go out on a rehab assignment. He’ll be eligible to come back to the active roster in another 22 days, having already spent 38 days on the disabled list.

    In Cincinnati, Cruz will get his first look in the big leagues since a brief cameo with the 2016 Royals. The 31-year-old is no stranger to the NL Central after serving as the backup to Yadier Molina in St. Louis from 2011-15. He’s a career .218/.260/.308 hitter in 638 MLB plate appearances. Cruz has a solid track record in Triple-A and hit .280/.341/.458 with San Diego’s top affiliate last season, though he was off to an ugly .170/.268/.255 start to his 2018 season in Louisville.

    Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Mets Expect To Trade Matt Harvey]]> 2018-05-08T21:22:27Z 2018-05-08T21:22:35Z May 8: The Mets have been trying to add a catcher in return for Harvey, per Mike Puma of the New York Post (Twitter link). Puma adds that the Padres are also in the mix for Harvey.

    May 7: The Mets are “confident” they will strike a deal involving righty Matt Harvey, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). At this point, says Rosenthal, there are “four to five teams interested” in taking a chance on the former ace.

    Harvey was formally designated for assignment on May 5th, meaning his situation will be resolved one way or another by Saturday the 12th. If he’s not traded, Harvey would need to go onto waivers; if he were then to pass through unclaimed, he’d hit the open market (whether by release or by rejecting an outright assignment).

    We checked in earlier today on some teams with varying degrees of interest in Harvey. The Giants seem clearly to be involved, though their interest level isn’t clear. (Andy Martino of tweets there’s “very strong” interest, while’s Mark Feinsand reports (via Twitter) that it’s much more tepid, with some significant roadblocks to a swap.) Martino adds the Reds as a possibility, joining the previously reported Mariners in that regard. And Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets that the White Sox are also in the mix. There’s some uncertainty about the status of the Orioles, but they are among the organizations that would make some degree of sense on paper.

    Of course, we’ve also seen plenty of reports of other teams that will not be in on the 29-year-old. It appears the Rangers have decided against pursuing Harvey in a trade scenario despite giving it serious consideration. Otherwise, the RaysTigersRed Sox, and Yankees are said not to be involved.

    If a deal does, in fact, get done, Rosenthal says not to expect the Mets to shave away much salary. With something on the order of $4.5MM still owed to Harvey for the rest of the season, the New York organization anticipates paying the “vast majority” in hopes of securing “something in return” in a deal.

    Reading the tea leaves, then, the Mets aren’t really looking for a MLB asset back that might offset some of the Harvey commitment. It’s possible the team will be able to find another organization willing to give a bit of young talent, but it’ll take deft work for GM Sandy Alderson to achieve significant value.

    Harvey, after all, has managed only a 5.93 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in his 212 1/3 innings since the start of the 2016 season. His velocity has continued to trail off as the arm injuries have mounted. As outstanding as he was before a procedure to address thoracic outlet syndrome, Harvey has struggled badly ever since.

    Clearly, some front offices around the game still think that Harvey can at least deliver some useful innings from the back of a rotation. Just what they’ll give up to find out remains to be seen.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Riggleman: Finnegan Will Make Next Scheduled Start]]> 2018-05-07T20:37:36Z 2018-05-07T20:37:36Z
  • Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman told reporters today that in spite of his considerable struggles, left Brandon Finnegan would make his next scheduled start (Twitter link via C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic). Finnegan, 25, has been hammered for 19 earned runs on 27 hits (five homers) and 15 walks against 14 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings so far in 2018. He hasn’t lasted more than five innings in any of his starts this season and has allowed three or more runs each time he’s taken the mound. There was plenty of debate as to whether Finnegan was best suited as a starter or reliever even prior to Cincinnati’s acquisition of him in the 2015 Johnny Cueto blockbuster with the Royals, and he’s yet to establish himself as a viable rotation piece at the game’s top level. Rosecrans notes that Riggleman wouldn’t commit to anything beyond his next outing, so it’s possible that Finnegan’s leash is running out. Finnegan does have minor league options remaining for this season and next.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Release Patrick Kivlehan]]> 2018-05-07T13:53:19Z 2018-05-07T13:53:19Z The Reds have released infielder/outfielder Patrick Kivlehan from their Triple-A affiliate, Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports in his latest transactions roundup. The 28-year-old had been with the organization since 2016.

    Kivlehan spent the entire 2017 season in the Majors with the Reds, tallying a career-high 204 plate appearances but struggling to a .208/.304/.399 batting line. He did manage to walk at a 10.8 percent clip and slug nine homers, five doubles and a triple while posting a quality .191 ISO in that time. However, Kivlehan also punched out in 29.9 percent of those 204 plate appearances as well.

    Thus far in the 2018 season, that power was nowhere to be found at the Triple-A level. Through his first 47 PAs, Kivlehan hit just .167/.255/.167 with 15 strikeouts against two walks. Kivlehan, a career .251/.306/.424 hitter in Triple-A, has extensive experience at third base, first base and in left field. He’s also spent more than 100 innings in center field and left field, and he made a quick two-inning cameo at second base with Cincinnati’s top affiliate in 2018 as well.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Rotation Woes Stalling Reds' Rebuilding Efforts]]> 2018-05-04T03:58:58Z 2018-05-04T03:54:52Z
  • The fate of the Reds’ rebuild is in the hands of a group of starting pitchers that have yet to prove capable at the big league level or even, in some cases, in the upper minors, writes John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. As Fay notes, the Reds have a fairly promising group of position players in the big leagues (plus an elite prospect on the cusp in Nick Senzel), but none of their pitching prospects have established themselves. As Brandon FinneganLuis Castillo, Tyler Mahle and Sal Romano endure struggles in the Majors, alternatives such as Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed and Jackson Stephens are floundering in the minors. Fay notes that the organization’s plan had been to expand payroll next offseason and fill some holes via free agency as the nucleus of the next contending Reds team emerged, but that of course won’t have any impact if the team can’t overcome an increasingly problematic inability to develop starters.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Braves Claim Phil Gosselin From Reds]]> 2018-05-03T18:51:07Z 2018-05-03T18:21:23Z The Braves announced this afternoon that they’ve claimed infielder Phil Gosselin off waivers from the Reds and assigned him to Triple-A Gwinnett. Atlanta had open space on its 40-man roster, so there’s no corresponding move necessary with Gosselin’s claim.

    This will mark Gosselin’s second stint with the Atlanta organization, as the Braves were the club to initially select him out of the University of Virginia in the fifth round of the 2010 draft. Gosselin went on to make his Major League debut for the Braves three years later, and in parts of three seasons with Atlanta, he slashed .282/.321/.345 through 185 trips to the plate.

    Since being traded to the Braves in the deal that saw Atlanta effectively purchase pitching prospect Touki Toussaint from the D-backs by absorbing the remainder of Bronson Arroyo’s contract, Gosselin has spent time in Arizona, Pittsburgh, Texas and Cincinnati. All told, he’s a lifetime .263/.314/.361 hitter that’ll provide the Braves with some depth at second base, shortstop and third base while playing at the Triple-A level.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Release Dean Kiekhefer]]> 2018-04-30T15:15:40Z 2018-04-30T15:15:40Z
  • The Reds parted ways with left-handed reliever Dean Kiekhefer, releasing him from their Double-A club. The 28-year-old tossed 22 innings at the big league level with the Cardinals in 2016, working to a 5.32 ERA with 14 strikeouts against seven walks (four intentional) and two hit batters in that brief time. Kiekhefer landed with the Mariners via waivers in the 2016-17 offseason but was outrighted off their 40-man roster shortly thereafter. Last year, he logged a 4.47 ERA with 8.5 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 0.61 HR/9 and a 46 percent grounder rate in Triple-A. He opened the season with eight innings of one-run ball in the Cincinnati organization, albeit at the Double-A level.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Reds Working To Fix Luis Castillo]]> 2018-04-29T00:53:42Z 2018-04-29T00:52:16Z
  • Righty Luis Castillo was a key part of a Reds-Marlins trade in 2017 that also involved Straily, and the former has struggled mightily this year after looking like a potential long-term cog last season. The Reds are now working to fix Castillo, Mark Sheldon of details. “They all agree that his arm angle has changed a little bit,’ interim manager Jim Riggleman said of pitching coach Danny Darwin, bullpen coach Ted Power and coach Derrin Ebert. “His hand is maybe not getting on top of the ball like it needs to. What that does, is it causes the ball to flatten out instead of sink. Hitters love that when the ball moves [flat] across the plate instead of having some sink. It’s kind of running right into their barrel.” Hitters have indeed barreled up against Castillo, who has seen his ERA rise from 3.12 in 2017 to 7.85 this year. Along the way, the 25-year-old has experienced a velocity drop and allowed more hard contact, Sheldon explains in a piece that’s worth checking out in full. It’s been a discouraging development for the Reds, who haven’t had much success developing front-line pitching from within.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[NL Notes: Bruce, Kang, Stratton, Panik, Gohara, Pennington]]> 2018-04-28T23:29:26Z 2018-04-28T18:30:10Z Mets outfielder Jay Bruce has been taking ground balls at first base, James Wagner of the New York Times reports. Wagner adds that the Mets may consider playing him there in order to open up room for Brandon Nimmo to receive everyday playing time again. First base incumbent Adrian Gonzalez has struggled mightily thus far, with just a .203/.300/.320 batting line on the season. It’s still only April, but in light of his struggles last year with the Dodgers, Gonzalez’s leash might be fairly short. That’s particularly true since Nimmo reached base in half of his 38 MLB plate appearances this season. It’s fair to think that the Mets are looking hard for ways to lock Nimmo into an everyday role.

    Other news out of the NL…

    • Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang won’t receive any discipline from MLB, nor will the team dole out any punishment, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports on Twitter. Kang was denied a U.S. visa for all of last year due to multiple DUI-related arrests. He’s finally able to return to the Pirates as of Thursday.
    • Today, the Giants reinstated Chris Stratton from the paternity list, optioning outfielder Austin Slater to Triple-A Sacramento in a corresponding move. Within hours, however, the club reversed its reported stance on Mac Williamson’s status, placing him on the seven-day concussion DL. The move allowed the Giants to recall Slater, who’s directly replacing Williamson. Stratton sports an impressive 2.32 ERA and 2.69 FIP across five starts this season, though the fact that he hasn’t allowed any homers despite a 37.8% hard contact rate suggests he might have been a bit lucky in that regard. Stratton will take his scheduled turn through the rotation today against the Dodgers.
    • In other Giants news, second baseman Joe Panik has been placed on the disabled list with a sprained left thumb. The club correspondingly purchased the contract of second baseman/outfielder Alen Hanson, who leads the Triple-A Pacific Coast League with a .403 batting average. The club moved Mark Melancon to the 60-day DL in order to clear room on the 40-man roster for Hanson.
    • The Braves have reinstated left-hander Luiz Gohara from the disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Gwinnett, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Gohara suffered a sprained ankle during a spring training outing, and had exhausted the maximum amount of time allotted for rehab starts. He’ll likely make a couple more starts in the minors before returning to help the Braves at the major league level. Gohara had figured to be a prominent part of Atlanta’s rotation before the season began.
    • The Reds announced that infielder Cliff Pennington has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Louisville. Pennington, who signed a minors deal in the offseason, made the club out of spring training camp as a bench player. However, he’s struck out in nearly 40 percent of his plate appearances thus far and has yet to sock an extra-base hit.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds Activate David Hernandez]]> 2018-04-28T04:15:48Z 2018-04-28T03:57:36Z
  • A number of other players are already coming off of the DL. The Reds have activated righty David Hernandez and the Mariners have brought back first baseman Ryon Healy. Both were relatively significant offseason acquisitions for their organizations. Meanwhile, the Rays activated infielder Matt Duffy and the Rangers did the same with righty Tony Barnette.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds Activate Eugenio Suarez, Select Rosell Herrera]]> 2018-04-26T14:39:26Z 2018-04-26T14:38:33Z The Reds announced a series of transactions today spurred by the return of third baseman Eugenio Suarez from the DL. Cincinnati has also selected the contract of utilityman Rosell Herrera and optioned outfielder Phil Ervin and infielder Cliff Pennington to open active roster space.

    Suarez had been rehabbing a fractured thumb that put him on the shelf after just eight games of action. He’ll look to pick up where he left off after opening the season on a .296/.424/.630 tear after signing a long-term extension over the winter.

    Also coming to the MLB roster is Herrera, a 25-year-old switch-hitter who once rated as a significant prospect with the Rockies. He’ll get his first shot at the majors after joining the Reds organization on a minors deal last fall. Herrera was off to a strong start at Triple-A, posting a .311/.373/.607 slash in 68 plate appearances.

    Ervin and Pennington will head down to Louisville while holding onto their 40-man spots for the time being. The former has been viewed as a quality prospect in the past but will need to wait for another opportunity after struggling with his brief chance this year. As for Pennington, who limped out of the gates after being added to the roster out of camp, it’s not immediately clear whether he has accepted the assignment. An 11-year MLB veteran, he’d have the right instead to choose free agency.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Outrighted: Quackenbush, Adams, Brothers, Ravin]]> 2018-04-26T00:46:29Z 2018-04-26T00:41:38Z Here are the latest players to be outrighted off of their teams’ 40-man rosters:

    • The Reds announced that righty Kevin Quackenbush has been outrighted after clearing waivers following a recent DFA. The veteran could have elected free agency but has instead decided to remain in the Cincinnati organization, MLBTR’s Steve Adams tweets. Quackenbush did not produce a very appealing stat line during his ten appearances with the Reds. He surrendered 11 earned runs, with a 7:6 K/BB ratio, in just nine innings of action. In over two hundred career innings at the game’s highest level, Quackenbush carries a 4.38 ERA.
    • Outfielder Lane Adams and relievers Rex Brothers and Josh Ravin were all outrighted by the Braves, the club says. Both Adams and Ravin had recently been designated for assignment, so had already been removed from the 40-man. As for Brothers, a 30-year-old southpaw, he’ll lose his spot after a rough start to the season. He has issued eight walks in his six Triple-A frames — an area that has long been a challenge — and does not appear to be in the team’s immediate plans. The Braves will pay Brothers at a lesser rate in the minors under the split contract he agreed to last fall. Adams, who has been productive in limited action at the MLB level over the past two years, will remain on hand as an outfield depth piece. Ravin, who was claimed over the winter, will likely be among the first pitchers considered if a bullpen need arises.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Designate Kevin Quackenbush For Assignment]]> 2018-04-24T21:44:37Z 2018-04-24T21:29:39Z The Reds announced on Tuesday that they’ve designated right-hander Kevin Quackenbush for assignment. His spot on the roster will go to fellow righty Kevin Shackelford, who has been reinstated from the 10-day disabled list.

    Quackenbush, 29, was tagged for 11 runs on 13 hits and six walks with seven strikeouts in nine innings out of the Cincinnati bullpen this winter. He’d been in camp with the Reds on a minor league deal and made the club out of Spring Training, but his stay in Cincinnati looks like it’ll ultimately prove to be brief.

    Prior to the 2018 season, the entirety of Quackenbush’s MLB experience had come with the Padres. He was excellent in his debut season as a 25-year-old back in 2014 (2.48 ERA, 9.3 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 0.3 HR/9) and pitched to a respectable 3.50 ERA in his first three big league seasons. Quackenbush struggled through a disastrous 2017 season, however, yielding five homers and issuing 16 walks in just 26 1/3 innings, en route to a 7.86 ERA.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds Release Barrett Astin]]> 2018-04-24T13:22:36Z 2018-04-24T13:22:36Z The Reds announced that they have released right-hander Barrett Astin. He had been outrighted off of the 40-man roster last fall.

    The 26-year-old Astin is a former third-round pick who landed in Cincinnati as the player to be named later in the 2014 swap that sent Jonathan Broxton to the Brewers. Astin cracked the majors last year, but issued seven walks while recording only two strikeouts in his eight innings of action.

    Though he had a promising season at Double-A in 2016, Astin has largely struggled at the highest level of the minors. He carries a 5.91 ERA in 56 1/3 total innings for Triple-A Louisville and has surrendered over a dozen base hits per regulation game along with 7.8 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Release Adam Brett Walker]]> 2018-04-23T14:22:43Z 2018-04-23T14:06:02Z
  • Also via Eddy, the Reds have released outfielder Adam Brett Walker from the organization. Walker, 27, was a third-round pick of the Twins in 2012 and boasts huge raw power but plenty of swing-and-miss issues as well as a limited defensive skill set. Minnesota removed him from the 40-man roster after the 2016 season, and he landed with the Brewers, Orioles (twice), Braves and Reds via a series of waivers claims and minor league signings in 2017 alone. Walker’s power is evident in looking at his career .232 ISO in the minors, but he’s whiffed in 30.9 percent of his minor league plate appearances — including an enormous 37.4 percent strikeout clip in Triple-A.

  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Reds' Managerial Job]]> 2018-04-22T22:15:24Z 2018-04-22T21:39:14Z
  • Reds legend Barry Larkin “has always coveted” their managerial job, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. Now that the team has fired previous skipper Bryan Price and is currently going with an interim option in Jim Riggleman, it’s possible Larkin will emerge as a candidate when the Reds’ search for a full-time skipper begins in earnest. Larkin, a Hall of Fame shortstop with the Reds from 1986-2004, currently works with the team as a special assistant. Former major league skipper and ex-Red Buddy Bell is also under Cincinnati’s employ (as a senior adviser), but the 66-year-old is uninterested in managing the club, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports on Twitter.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Dick Williams On Firing Of Bryan Price]]> 2018-04-21T02:31:33Z 2018-04-21T01:48:47Z
  • C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic breaks down the Reds firing of skipper Bryan Price in a subscription piece. As Rosecrans observes, it is in some regard actually more surprising that Price lasted this long, despite never overseeing a winning product, than that he was fired so early in the current season. Of course, the struggles during his tenure have hardly all been his fault, and it may be that the long-rebuilding team finally felt this was the time to make a statement. There were some internal hopes of improvement entering the year, making it all the harder to stomach an ugly start to the season. GM Dick Williams explained that “now was the right time to do something about” the fact that the team’s offseason work had gone so far south. At the same time, he acknowledged that “this is an organizational disappointment,” not something that falls only at the feet of Price and his staff. It’s certainly hard to escape that conclusion; as I documented in breaking down the Reds’ offseason just yesterday, Price was not exactly given a compelling roster to work with this year or in the past.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Offseason In Review: Cincinnati Reds]]> 2018-04-19T23:37:31Z 2018-04-19T23:17:55Z This is the latest entry in MLBTR’s 2017-18 Offseason In Review series. Click here to read the other completed reviews from around the league.

    The Reds added a few role players but largely turned in a quiet offseason.

    Major League Signings

    Trades and Claims


    • Signed 3B Eugenio Suarez to seven-year, $66MM contract with $15MM club option ($2MM buyout) for 2025

    Notable Minor League Signings

    Notable Losses

    Needs Addressed

    The Reds entered this winter, much as the two previous ones, in something of a stasis at the major-league level. While there have been some encouraging signs from certain young players, the organization has not yet found cause to invest in high-quality veterans, both because it has yet to fully develop a new core of young talent and because the payroll is still burdened by several large contracts.

    There’s no doubt that the Cincinnati ballclub is in a rebuild. It has failed to top seventy wins or crawl out of the NL Central basement since 2014. Unlike many organizations that find themselves in such a position, however, the Reds have not been able (or, to some extent, willing) to drastically slash payroll, which has barely dipped below $90MM over the past several years — not that far off of the ~$115MM high-point reached in 2014 and 2015.

    On the one hand, that’s simply a product of circumstances. Several of the team’s most expensive players — Homer Bailey, Devin Mesoraco, and Brandon Phillips before them — have been essentially untradeable due to injuries, performance, and/or no-trade protection. But the team has also not found appealing opportunities to deal other expensive assets. Well-compensated superstar Joey Votto has full no-trade rights. Closer Raisel Iglesias — who’s relatively cheaper at this point but could opt into arbitration next fall — is rightly seen as a long-term asset, though certainly there’s risk in keeping a high-end young reliever. Center fielder Billy Hamilton was a frequent subject of trade chatter but ultimately was held over the just-completed offseason. And second bagger Scooter Gennett — who was a nice find last spring — is like Hamilton both increasingly pricey and nearing a final trip through the arb process.

    The club also decided not to deal third baseman Eugenio Suarez, instead declaring him part of the core moving forward with an extension. He’s valued for both his glove and bat by the Reds. If he can maintain the pace he sustained in 2017, the contract will prove a relative bargain, though it’s also another big commitment and thus obviously carries some risk.

    Those players, of course, are still in town. Former shortstop Zack Cozart, on the other hand, departed via free agency — leaving the Reds without any compensation. The club seemed in position to deal him at times, but evidently his ill-timed health issues and/or a lack of reasonable offers precluded a deal. While the Reds held out the possibility of extending Cozart, that never happened and the organization ended up not issuing him a qualifying offer at the end of the 2017 campaign. That decision is hard to fault, as Cozart may have felt it too risky to pass up $17.2MM for one season and carrying draft compensation onto the open market. Without knowing the precise offers that could have been had, it’s hard to second-guess the organization too much for its handling of that particular situation, but it’s certainly a less-than-desirable result in the situation of yet another quality veteran player.

    In the aggregate, then, the Reds have likely not pocketed significant amounts of cash even while they’ve put an unsuccessful product on the field. And the organization has reasonably substantial sums already committed into the future, including about $68.5MM for 2019, $49.5MM for 2020, and $40MM for 2021. Contemplating future spending capacity is all guesswork from the outside, but it seems reasonable to say that the Reds did not save as much money or clear as much future payroll space as quite a few other rebuilding teams have in recent seasons. And that likely left less to work with this winter.

    Given the situation, perhaps it’s unsurprising that the Dick Williams-led front office ended up turning in another quiet offseason. The organization took a budget-conscious approach to its two biggest needs — accounting for Cozart’s absence and adding some arms — and otherwise mostly elected to maintain the status quo in hopes of finding improvement from within in 2018.

    With the outfield and starting infield already accounted for from within, the Reds decided to pursue a few utility pieces to help carry the load while waiting for top prospect Nick Senzel. The club ended up giving Opening Day jobs to both Cliff Pennington and Phil Gosselin, providing a veteran presence but not much hope of significant output.

    On the pitching side, David Hernandez and Jared Hughes were both given low-AAV, two-year contracts to firm up the relief corps. Late-spring signee Yovani Gallardo was another addition, though it wasn’t long before he was cut loose. That trio was supplemented by a variety of claims and minor-league signees who’ll combine to add depth, but perhaps not much quality, to a Reds pitching staff that has been irredeemably awful over the past two seasons. Thus far in 2018, recent additions Kevin Quackenbush and Dylan Floro have stuck in the majors, while the team was also able to stash lefties Justin Nicolino and Kyle Crockett in the minors and off of the 40-man roster.

    Questions Remaining

    The resulting pitching unit is entirely underwhelming on paper. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the staff has opened the 2018 season as the worst in baseball, continuing a pace of three-year futility that may rival any in baseball history when all is said and done. Of course, as I argued last fall, there wasn’t much sense throwing money at the problem at this point. Even significant spending likely would not have made this roster a contending one; any outside chance at staying in the hunt was likely snuffed out anyway with a 3-and-15 start.

    What the Reds are hoping, then, is that their slate of hurlers makes some strides that improve the future outlook. Veteran Homer Bailey is hoping to return to some level of health and effectiveness after three forgettable seasons. With $49MM still owed on his deal (including a buyout of a 2020 option), the best the team can hope for is to fill up some innings or perhaps save a bit of cash if there’s a team interested in a trade. It’s still anybody’s guess when Anthony DeSclafani will return from his run of injuries. He can be controlled for 2019 and 2020 via arbitration. Brandon Finnegan, who has one further year of control, is back on the hill after missing almost all of 2017. Each of these pitchers has succeeded at times in the majors, but whether they can do so again is questionable at best.

    There’s some promise from younger arms, too. Luis Castillo was a major bright spot in 2017 and is the most intriguing player the team has returned from its recent trades. Tyler Mahle is expected to turn into a solid MLB starter. But both of these pitchers still need to fully establish themselves at the game’s highest level. A host of other arms — Sal Romano, Amir Garrett, Jackson Stephens, and former top prospect Robert Stephenson among them — will get their share of opportunities. Some, surely, will end up dropping into relief duty (as Garrett has to open the year). Perhaps one or more will prove worthy of a starting slot in the future, though you’ll be hard-pressed to find strong believers among outside talent evaluators.

    Garrett has looked good in a relief role to open the season, potentially giving the team another late-inning piece while Hernandez and Michael Lorenzen work back from injury. Iglesias remains the anchor, while Wandy Peralta and Cody Reed provide two more lefty options to go with Garrett. Any contending team would have gone hunting for multiple upgrades over the winter. For the Reds, though, it’s more sensible to run out the pitchers they have to see what sticks.

    The situation on the position-player side is more promising, generally, but also comes with some concerns. Perhaps no area is of greater interest than the middle infield. With Suarez locked in at third (once he’s back to full health), it seems that Senzel will end up playing in the middle infield. If he’s capable of playing short, that could put even greater pressure on Jose Peraza, who has to this point wilted with the open opportunity he has received since the start of the 2016 season. Gennett could be a mid-season trade candidate, though rival teams are no doubt aware of the deeper history (including his lack of success against lefties) that preceded his excellent 2017 season. First base (Votto) and catcher (Tucker Barnhart, Mesoraco) rate as strengths.

    The outfield unit also has some more established options, though none are foolproof. Hamilton is a defensive and baserunning whiz whose bat seems less and less likely ever to come around. He’s flanked by two powerful, OBP-challenged players in Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler. Well-regarded youngster Jesse Winker is also slated to receive a lot of playing time after showing well in a 47-game stint last year. Phil Ervin, himself a former first-round pick, rounds out the major players in this arena. There’s talent here, but it’d be hard to call this a first-division unit. If things break right, though, the Reds could build from this group without further additions.


    The real problems with the Reds’ current situation began not with any decisions this winter, but with whiffs in years past on moving veteran assets. A combination of questionable decisionmaking (especially, holding some veterans at the 2015 deadline) and poor prospect outcomes, along with injuries and some bad fortune, largely left Williams and co. without appealing options for moving things forward over the just-completed offseason. Unfortunately, that means another season of waiting and hoping that the young talent in an increasingly well-regarded farm system will develop — and do so in time to join Votto while he’s still one of the game’s best hitters.

    How would you grade the Reds’ offseason efforts? (Link for MLBTR app users.)

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Fire Bryan Price, Mack Jenkins]]> 2018-04-19T13:59:49Z 2018-04-19T12:38:53Z The Reds announced this morning that they’ve fired manager Bryan Price and pitching coach Mack Jenkins. Bench coach Jim Riggleman will assume managerial duties on an interim basis, while Triple-A skipper Pat Kelly will take over Riggleman’s duties as bench coach. Double-A pitching coach Danny Darwin has been added to the Major League coaching staff as well. The Reds will conduct a search for a permanent managerial replacement “later in the year,” the team added.

    Bryan Price | David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

    Entering the season, Price was widely speculated to be on the hot seat. The 55-year-old former Reds pitching coach was entering his fifth season as manager in Cincinnati, but the Reds had opted only to exercise his 2018 club option rather than extend him to a longer team deal.

    That decision came on the heels of four consecutive losing seasons, and while one can hardly blame the manager for not piling up wins on a clearly rebuilding club, Cincinnati also didn’t seem to demonstrably improve under Price’s watch. The Reds won 76 games in his first season as skipper back in 2014, and since that time they’ve won 64, 68 and 68 games in the respective seasons to follow.

    This year’s Reds have been all the more disastrous, opening the year with a 3-15 record with a -46 run differential that easily ranks as the worst in the Majors. The Cincinnati front office clearly felt it was time for a new voice to guide the club, though it’s fair to question why that decision wasn’t simply made before exercising Price’s option, as not much has changed since last September. It’s also worth pointing out that Cincinnati hired former Red Sox and Blue Jays manager John Farrell in a scouting capacity this past offseason, and he’ll almost certainly join the list of managerial candidates when the Reds begin searching (if he doesn’t already top their list).

    As for Jenkins, he took over for former pitching coach Mark Riggins back in July 2016, but Reds hurlers haven’t improved much, if any, under his tutelage. The Reds, to be sure, have had their share of meaningful injuries in recent seasons — perhaps none more notable than Anthony DeSclafani, who has not pitched since 2016 — but that doesn’t explain the general lack of development among the team’s more promising young arms. As MLBTR’s Jeff Todd wrote last September:

    By measure of fWAR, at least, the 2016-17 Reds hurlers have turned in a two-year stretch of futility that is orders of magnitude worse than any other organization of the past two decades, falling well shy of the dreadful 2004-05 Royals and 2002-03 Devil Rays units.

    The 2018 Reds staff hasn’t done anything to correct that tailspin. Cincinnati’s 5.42 ERA, 4.64 xFIP and 4.91 SIERA marks all rank second-worst in the Majors, while their 5.26 FIP as a collective unit is the highest mark of any team in baseball. Cincinnati pitchers rank near the bottom of the league in strikeout percentage and have also posted one of the highest walk percentages of any team in baseball this season.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Dodgers Acquire Ariel Hernandez From Reds For Zach Neal, Ibandel Isabel]]> 2018-04-18T00:44:54Z 2018-04-18T00:44:54Z The Reds and Dodgers have announced a swap that will send starter Zach Neal and first baseman Ibandel Isabel to Cincinnati. In return, the Los Angeles organization acquires recently designated reliever Ariel Hernandez.

    Neal had already cleared waivers after being designated in the first week of April, so he won’t require a 40-man spot. He briefly appeared with the Dodgers after signing a minors deal in the offseason. Neal carries a 4.94 ERA with just 3.9 K/9 and 0.7 BB/9 in his 85 2/3 total MLB innings. The 29-year-old will presumably represent a depth option for the Cincinnati staff.

    The Reds also pick up Isabel, a 22-year-old who has yet to move past the High-A level. He has produced some solid numbers in the low minors, though, including a .259/.327/.489 slash with 28 home runs over 492 plate appearances last year at Rancho Cucamonga. That showing did come with a rather unhealthy tally of 172 strikeouts, and the Dodgers obviously did not see cause to move him up the chain since he was back at the same level to open the 2018 season.

    It’s certainly arguable that Hernandez is the most interesting player involved in this swap. He has huge stuff but hasn’t yet shown he can harness it at the game’s highest level. The Dodgers obviously are willing to place a bet that they can straighten him out. Hernandez worked to a 5.18 ERA with 29 strikeouts and 22 walks in 24 1/3 MLB innings in 2017.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds GM Dick Williams On Nick Senzel Timeline]]> 2018-04-17T01:47:57Z 2018-04-17T01:46:16Z With the Reds off to a brutal start to the season, and recently extended third baseman Eugenio Suarez out with injury, attention has turned to the question whether and when the team will promote top infield prospect Nick Senzel. GM Dick Williams addressed the matter with’s Mark Sheldon, emphasizing that the organization is focused first on Senzel’s development.

    The second overall pick in the 2016 draft, Senzel has played to expectations since joining the professional ranks. He’s widely considered one of the ten or so best prospects in the game and knocked around both High-A and Double-A pitching in 2017.

    Particularly with Suarez still on the mend, there’s clearly a place for Senzel in the Cincinnati infield. But Williams says the organization felt it wasn’t the right call to promote Senzel to fill in the need. For one thing, he had been playing in the middle infield since the start of Spring Training. Thus, it was “a more natural move” for the organization to turn to the less-hyped Alex Blandino (along with some veterans already on the MLB roster) for the time being.

    Beyond that, the top Reds’ baseball decisionmaker said, the preference is for Senzel’s promotion “to be more dictated by his performance and confidence as opposed to being dictated by the situation” in the majors. Despite his extremely impressive effort last year, Senzel turned in a relatively tepid Cactus League performance and has carried that sluggishness into the early portion of the 2018 season at Triple-A Louisville.

    Service time is often the elephant in the room, though at this point the Reds could promote Senzel whenever they wish while knowing he will be controllable for six future seasons. Of course, if he’s held down long enough — mid-June, perhaps, though the precise date won’t be known until after the fact — then Senzel might be kept from reaching arbitration a year early as a Super Two player.

    Regardless, Williams says such considerations have not factored in. The club is focused on Senzel being fully prepared — “more than ready when he gets here, if that’s at all possible.” Williams says the hope is that, once Senzel is up, he’ll be in the majors for good. But just when that will come to pass is unclear. And in the meantime, disappointed fans are sure to continue expressing their frustrations.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Rangers Acquire Tony Sanchez]]> 2018-04-17T00:03:26Z 2018-04-16T21:26:16Z The Rangers have acquired backstop Tony Sanchez from the Reds, both teams announced. Cash or a player to be named later will head back in return.

    Once a highly-regarded prospect with the Pirates, the 29-year-old Sanchez has settled in as an upper-level depth piece. He’ll head to the Rangers’ top affiliate to take the place of Brett Nicholas, who was recently dealt to the Padres.

    Sanchez has just 156 total plate appearances at the MLB level in four seasons of action, over which he carries a .257/.301/.375 batting line. He spent the bulk of 2017 at the Triple-A level with the Angels organization, where he posted a .272/.355/.374 slash with four long balls in 284 trips to the plate.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Price On Senzel Timeline]]> 2018-04-16T16:15:54Z 2018-04-16T16:12:32Z
  • The struggling Reds have received zero production from their third basemen since Eugenio Suarez hit the disabled list, but they’ve yet to call on one of baseball’s top prospects, Nick Senzel, to fill the void. As John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes, we’re already deep enough into the season that the Reds could promote Senzel and have delayed his free agency by a full year. Manager Bryan Price indicated that he believes Senzel could help the team right now but added that it’s a group decision and not one he can make on his own. “This is a decision that’s made by a lot of people for a lot of varying reasons,” said Price. “…I think he could help us. There’s also the argument that the people who see him and know him better than I do need to feel like he’s ready.” Senzel, the former No. 2 overall pick in the draft, is hitting just .233/.283/.349 through 46 Triple-A plate appearances, though his bat has picked up a bit after a four-game hitless slump.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Reds Notes: Schebler, Hernandez]]> 2018-04-15T17:28:32Z 2018-04-15T17:28:05Z
  • Reds outfielder Scott Schebler, on the DL retroactive to April 6 with a right elbow injury, is slated to play in a Triple-A rehab game Sunday, Mark Sheldon of relays. If that goes well, it’s possible Schebler will rejoin the Reds on Monday, according to manager Bryan Price. Meanwhile, reliever David Hernandez is getting close to embarking on his own rehab assignment, per Sheldon. The Reds signed Hernandez to a two-year deal in free agency, but right shoulder inflammation has kept him from debuting with the club.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Designate Ariel Hernandez For Assignment]]> 2018-04-13T19:18:47Z 2018-04-13T19:04:08Z The Reds announced on Friday that they’ve designated right-hander Ariel Hernandez for assignment. His 40-man spot will go to righty Dylan Floro, whose contract has been selected from Triple-A Louisville. Right-hander Tanner Rainey was optioned to Louisville to open a spot on the active roster for Floro, who’ll join the bullpen for tonight’s game.

    Hernandez, 26, is best known for an electric fastball that he can run up into triple digits, though his big league debut in 2017 wasn’t particularly inspiring. Through 24 1/3 innings out of the Reds’ bullpen last year, the 6’4″, 230-pound righty posted a 5.18 ERA with and impressive 29 strikeouts against a disastrous 22 walks. He also served up six homers in that short time and posted a 42.9 percent ground-ball rate that was noticeably lower than his typically strong minor league marks.

    That said, as a power arm with multiple minor league options remaining, Hernandez seems like the type of arm that could well command interest from other clubs — if not via trade then certainly on the waiver wire. It’s worth noting that Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper pointed out a spring velocity drop for Hernandez (Twitter link), which could very well have contributed to his DFA, though.

    Floro, meanwhile, has 24 2/3 innings of big league experience and a 5.11 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 to show for it. While Hernandez struggles with his control, Floro specializes in preventing free passes, having only yielded 1.5 walks per nine innings in 245 2/3 frames at the Triple-A level. The 27-year-old has averaged just 5.9 K/9 at that level, but he’s also routinely posted ground-ball rates in the mid-50s and notched an impressive 61.6 percent grounder rate in Triple-A last year.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Yovani Gallardo Elects Free Agency]]> 2018-04-12T18:15:25Z 2018-04-12T18:15:25Z The Reds announced that right-hander Yovani Gallardo has cleared waivers and rejected an outright assignment to the minors in favor of free agency. Cincinnati had designated him for assignment earlier this week.

    Gallardo’s tenure with the Reds will go down as a brief 2 1/3-inning stint over a span of just three games. Cincinnati picked up the veteran righty after he didn’t make the Brewers’ Opening Day roster, but the 32-year-old will once again hit the open market in search of a new club.

    Gallardo was a quality big league starter from 2009-15, averaging 32 starts and 191 innings of 3.69 ERA ball per season with Milwaukee (and, in 2015, with the Rangers). However, his strikeout rate began to deteriorate in 2013. His fastball, which averaged 92.5 mph during his best seasons, fell to an average of 90.4 mph in his lone season with Texas, and the start of his Orioles career was marred by a shoulder/biceps issue which shelved him for roughly six weeks. He gained some of his velocity back in 2017 with Seattle, though that spike is likely in part attributable to a brief move to the bullpen.

    Over the past two seasons, Gallardo has struggled to a 5.57 ERA with just 6.5 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9 and 1.4 HR/9 as he’s become increasingly susceptible to the long ball. Still, a club in need of some rotation depth could certainly look to bring the veteran into the fold as a depth option — depending on his willingness to head to the minors. It’s possible that a club particularly thin on pitching, such as the Marlins, could look to plug Gallardo directly into its staff (that’s merely my own speculation), though most clubs would view him as more of a Triple-A depth option at this point.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds Designate Yovani Gallardo]]> 2018-04-10T18:25:19Z 2018-04-10T18:07:25Z The Reds announced today that they have designated veteran righty Yovani Gallardo for assignment. His roster spot will go to fellow right-hander Tanner Rainey, whose contract was selected.

    Gallardo, 32, spent camp with the division-rival Brewers but was cut loose before the start of the season. He joined the Cincinnati organization shortly thereafter on a deal that reported came with a $750K salary. It’s not clear, though, whether some or all of that sum is guaranteed.

    Though it’s still quite early, Gallardo is off to a brutal start. He has allowed eight earned runs on eight hits and four walks while logging 2 1/3 innings. The veteran has had trouble finding the zone and been hammered when he has. That follows some rather distinct struggles over the past two campaigns, as Gallardo carries a 5.57 ERA in his past 248 2/3 innings.

    Still, it stands to reason that another team will come calling on Gallardo, though he’ll surely have to spend some time in the minors before another MLB chance opens. From 2009 through 2015, after all, he averaged 191 innings of 3.69 ERA annually. While it’s no longer reasonable to anticipate anything close to that kind of productivity, Gallardo could end up being seen as a handy depth option to have around.

    As for Rainey, the 2015 second-rounder could make for an interesting addition to the MLB relief unit. He has a big arm and took off after moving to a full-time relief role in 2017. Splitting the season between the High-A and Double-A levels, Rainey compiled a 3.19 ERA with 15.1 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 4/10/18]]> 2018-04-10T04:16:57Z 2018-04-10T04:16:57Z Here are the day’s minor moves:

    • The Reds have agreed to a minor-league deal with outfielder Steve Selsky, per Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter link). Selsky, 28, was cut loose by the Red Sox a few days back. He spent the 2017 season with the Boston organization but will return now to the team that originally took him in the 33rd round of the 2011 draft. Selsky has only seen minimal MLB time to date but has shown an interesting bat at times. He has not continued the pop he demonstrated at the High-A level earlier in his career, but has mostly been a high-average, solid-on-base hitter in the upper minors. In 2017, however, he limped to a .215/.270/.360 slash with atypically unsightly plate discipline numbers (30.1% strikeout rate; 5.6% walk rate).
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Place Eugenio Suarez, Scott Schebler On Disabled List]]> 2018-04-09T19:58:23Z 2018-04-09T19:58:23Z The Reds announced that they’ve placed third baseman Eugenio Suarez and outfielder Scott Schebler on the 10-day disabled list today. Suarez was diagnosed with a broken thumb after being hit by a pitch in yesterday’s game against the Pirates, while Schebler hasn’t played in a week due to a right elbow/ulnae nerve contusion (also stemming from a hit-by-pitch). Schebler’s DL stint is retroactive to April 6 — the maximum three-day period by which a DL placement can be backdated.

    In their place, Cincinnati has recalled infielder Alex Blandino and right-hander Zack Weiss from Triple-A Louisville. Each player will be making his MLB debut the first time he gets into a big league game.

    Blandino, 25, was the 29th overall pick in the 2014 draft but hasn’t seen his stock take off as the Reds would’ve hoped when investing such a lofty pick in the former Stanford star. Blandino, who hit .265/.382/.453 with a dozen homers and 36 doubles between Double-A and Triple-A last season, does rank in the organization’s top 20 prospects in the estimation of most major outlets, though. Fangraphs (No. 14) and (No. 18) ranked him favorably, while ESPN’s Keith Law was more bullish and placed Blandino 10th (subscription link) among Reds farmhands. He’s generally regarded as a second/third baseman with quality on-base skills but average power at best.

    Weiss, meanwhile, comes with just 29 innings of experience above Class-A Advanced — 28 in Double-A last season and one in Triple-A in 2018. He’s been slowed by elbow issues throughout his professional career but has also missed enough bats (11.2 K/9) and limited walks well enough (2.5 BB/9) in parts of five seasons that the Reds added him to the 40-man roster in the offseason.

    Some Reds fans, of course, could be disheartened not to see Nick Senzel tabbed as an immediate replacement for Suarez, who figures to be on the shelf for more than the 10-day minimum as he recovers from his broken thumb. The former No. 2 overall draft pick is widely regarded as one of the top five to 10 prospects in all of baseball, and it’s believed that he’ll make his MLB debut at some point in 2018.

    However, the Reds could gain an extra year of control over Senzel merely by waiting until this weekend to promote him for his first look in the Majors. And beyond any service time questions, it’s also possible that the organization simply doesn’t want to rush the highly touted infielder to the big leagues. Senzel has played in just three Triple-A games and logged only 57 games in Double-A last season. Senzel posted a .633 OPS in a small sample of plate appearances this spring in Major League camp with the Reds.

    Additionally, with Suarez locked up to a new seven-year extension, it seems clear that Senzel will be moving off of third base in the long run. He’s played second base in his first three Triple-A games this year, but those are his lone (regular-season) professional games anywhere other than the hot corner, so there’s some logic in getting him additional reps in the middle infield before calling on him in the Majors as well.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Eugenio Suarez Diagnosed With Fractured Thumb]]> 2018-04-08T21:50:46Z 2018-04-08T21:50:35Z 4:50pm: Suarez will go on the DL on Monday, per’s Mark Sheldon, who expects the Reds to replace him with Pennington and Gosselin.

    2:39pm: Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez has suffered a fractured right thumb, C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic was among those to report. The injury occurred when Suarez took a pitch off the hand from the Pirates’ Jameson Taillon on Sunday.

    It’s unclear how much time Suarez will miss, though he’s likely to head to the disabled list, thus depriving the Reds of one of their top players. The 26-year-old has gotten off to an excellent start this season, having batted .296/.424/.630 with a pair of home runs in 33 plate appearances, after landing an extension last month. The Reds guaranteed Suarez $66MM over seven years on the heels of a breakout 2017 in which he posted 4.0 fWAR and slashed .260/.367/.461 with 26 HRs in 632 trips to the plate.

    The Reds replaced Suarez with veteran infielder Cliff Pennington on Sunday. He could continue to man third while Suarez is out, then, while Phil Gosselin represents another potential replacement on the club’s 25-man roster. Forty-man options in the minors include Alex Blandino and Shed Long, both of whom are with Triple-A Louisville. Infielder Nick Senzel, one of the best prospects in baseball, is also at the highest level of the minors in the Reds’ system. Senzel, 22, could be a candidate for a promotion, though he’s not on Cincinnati’s 40-man roster.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Hunter Green To Open Season Exclusively As Pitcher]]> 2018-04-05T00:45:56Z 2018-04-05T00:45:56Z Reds prospect Hunter Greene, the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft who wowed scouts with triple-digit velocity in addition to his potential as an infielder, will begin the season exclusively as a pitcher, Cincinnati director of player development Jeff Graupe tells Jon Morosi of (Twitter link). However, while the ballyhooed 19-year-old won’t be hitting to begin the year, the organization is not “closing the door on developing him offensively,” Graupe adds. Virtually every scouting report heading into the draft suggested that Greene’s upside on the mound was higher anyhow, though there was nonetheless some thought to developing him as a two-way player at least in the early portion of his career. Greene made three starts in Rookie ball last season and appeared in seven games as a DH.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds Outright Stuart Turner]]> 2018-04-04T17:54:08Z 2018-04-04T17:54:08Z The Reds announced today that catcher Stuart Turner was outrighted after clearing waivers. He’ll remain with the organization at Triple-A.

    Turner, 26, was carried on the active roster for all of the 2017 season after being taken in the Rule 5 draft from the Twins. He ended up appearing in only 37 games and taking just 89 plate appearances, over which he carried an ugly .134/.182/.244 batting line.

    While the Cincinnati organization achieved full control rights over Turner, he obviously did not exactly force his way into the club’s plans. Though he’ll still have a chance to continue working on his hitting at Triple-A, Turner will need to play his way back onto the 40-man roster.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Vance Worley Opts Out Of Reds Contract]]> 2018-04-03T18:23:06Z 2018-04-03T18:23:06Z Righty Vance Worley has exercised the opt-out clause in his contract with the Reds, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation (Twitter link). He had inked a minors deal with the Cincinnati organization in January that would have paid him $1.5MM in the majors.

    Worley, 30, had fought for a role on the Reds staff this spring but did not crack the active roster. The eight-year MLB veteran surrendered eight earned runs on 17 hits in his 11 2/3 Cactus League innings.

    Once a starter with the Phillies, Twins, and Pirates, Worley has functioned mostly as a long man and fill-in starter over the past three seasons. While he doesn’t get many swings and misses, he typically draws a solid number of groundballs and has been effective at times, as his career 4.09 ERA over 667 innings attests.

    Of course, Worley is coming off of a less-than-effective campaign with the Marlins in which he coughed up 6.91 earned per nine. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest poor fortune — including a 64.5% strand rate, .378 BABIP, and significant spread in batted ball outcomes (.363 xwOBA vs. .396 wOBA) — but perhaps also not much reason to expect Worley to be more than a useful depth asset to have on hand.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Reds' Yovani Gallardo Had Offers From Other Teams]]> 2018-04-01T02:14:01Z 2018-04-01T02:13:31Z
  • Yovani Gallardo signed a major league deal with the Reds on Saturday, but they weren’t the only team that pursued the right-hander. Gallardo told C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic and other reporters that he garnered offers from other clubs before joining the Reds (though it’s unclear whether those were big league proposals). He’s now in position to return to regular-season action in the NL Central, where he pitched with the Brewers from 2007-14. Gallardo has collected plenty of experience at the Reds’ Great American Ballpark as a result, having made 15 starts there, Rosecrans notes.
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